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Hogan announces septic tank grants scheme of up to €4,000 to help protect water quality

17/12/12

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., today (17 December 2012) announced a grant scheme to provide financial assistance to households whose septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems, require remediation or upgrading following inspection under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012. 

Inspections are expected to commence in 2013 and will be based on a national inspection plan currently being finalised by the Environmental Protection Agency.  All domestic septic tanks and other waste water systems should be registered not later than 1st February 2013 on www.ProtectOurWater.ie or by post or in local authority offices. Waste water systems that that have not been registered by 1st February will also be subject to inspection.
 Household Income Thresholds and Grant Rates for septic tanks grant scheme.

Household Income %   Costs available  Maximum Grant
 
 Up to €50,000  80%  €4,000
 €50,001– €75,000  50%   €2,500

     The Minister stated “I am very conscious of householders’ concerns regarding some costs in repairing or upgrading their systems if they fail an inspection. Even though most of the deficiencies with septic tanks are likely to be remedied by routine maintenance including regular desludging, I am making this announcement today to reassure people that they will be assisted in meeting the costs of any remedial works that may be necessary arising from the implementation of the 2012 legislation. This is in keeping with the commitment I gave when the legislation was being debated in the Oireachtas this time last year. The scheme will provide a higher level of support to those on lower incomes.”

“While the majority of septic tanks may be working well, and in those cases the householders should have nothing to worry about, those tanks that are not working properly may be polluting groundwater and contaminating our drinking water supplies and must be remediated. No one better understands the risks associated with malfunctioning on-site waste water treatment systems than the people who live in close proximity to them and source their drinking water from their own wells or from their local group water scheme.  The key objective of this legislation is to enhance and protect public health and the environment which will, in turn, benefit rural dwellers in terms of a better quality of life and better quality water. Protecting our environment will also have positive economic benefits for the tourism, recreation, agricultural and food-producing sectors, all of which rely on clean water. Clean water is vital for attracting inward investment and to support water hungry sectors such as pharmaceuticals and ICT.’

The Minister said a strict condition of eligibility for grant aid will be that the householder has registered their system by the prescribed date of 1 February 2013.  The Minister stated “It will be a condition for eligibility for financial assistance under the scheme that householders comply with the legal requirement to register their system by 1 February 2013 on www.ProtectOurWater.ie.”   To date 290,000 people (58%) have registered their systems. Census 2011 indicates that there are about 497,000 septic tanks and similar systems in Ireland.       

The Minister said that the grant assistance will only be available to householders whose systems have been inspected by their local authority and are found to be in need of remediation. The Minister stressed that householders will be notified in writing in advance by their local authority if their system is to be inspected and he advised that, for safety reasons, householders should always ask for evidence of identification from people calling to their doors.

The Minister also announced that he is increasing the grant for Group Sewerage Schemes to €6,500 per house or 75% of the cost of the scheme, whichever is the lesser. The current rate of grant available for group sewerage schemes is €2,031.58 per house or 75% of the cost of the scheme, whichever is the lesser.
The Minister stated that he proposes, in the first instance, to carry out a number of pilot schemes based on an increased grant level.  “My Department will be asking local authorities to include in their requests for funding under the 2013 Rural Water Programme proposals for group sewerage schemes which might be viable based on an increased grant” the Minister said. He added that the selection of the pilot schemes and related funding arrangements will be completed as soon as possible after proposals have been received from local authorities in 2013.

The provision of financial assistance for this grant scheme is being made in the Rural Water Programme 2013. Local Authorities will be asked to prioritise their proposals, paying particular regard to the public health and environmental benefits that would accrue taking in to account the estimated costs.  

ENDS
Notes to the Editor:  

EPA will publish the national inspection plan shortly.

The Regulations - Owners of domestic waste-water treatments systems need to:
1. Know where their  septic tank is located;
2. Operate and maintain the system so it is fit for purpose and fully operational;
3. The system can not pollute the environment by discharging/leaking waste anywhere it is not suppose to ie. Into the ground or any water source ;
4. Roof water or surface water run-off can not enter a domestic waste water treatment system;
5. The system should be de-sludged at intervals appropriate to the tank capacity and the number of persons resident in the premises connected to it or as recommended by the system’s manufacturer.

There are three ways people can register their system:
1. Online at ProtectOurWater.ie,
2. By Post: Forms can be got in City/County Councils, libraries and Citizens Information Centres or by calling LoCall1890-800 800 for information. Cheques made Payable: ‘Protect Our Water’ and post to: Domestic Wastewater Systems Registration P.O Box 12204, D1
• Local Authority Office ( there is no administration fee)

 

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